In the gospel of St. Mark we are told about a parable (Mk 12,1-12) where a man planted a vineyard and leased it to tenant farmers. The servants whom he sent to collect his portion of the harvest were treated badly and some were even killed. Finally, he sent his son, thinking that the tenants would respect the boy. But they also killed him.
The servants and the son are a picture of those who work for Christ. That’s actually all of us, since we all ought to work for Christ. But precisely because of the message we have to spread and live by, and the resistance of the world, we can expect misunderstanding, persecution and even martyrdom to come our way too.
We have to learn to be thoroughly patient, bearing all things that can come to us, as St. Paul once described charity. But let’s also remember that charity can also conquer all things. Charity is not just bearing all the time, but also conquering all the time.
I would say that the bearing part of charity would seem to have the last word in our life that is going to be full of suffering. But it’s actually conquering. Just as Christ bore all the sins of men by dying on the cross, he eventually conquered with his resurrection.
This divine paradigm of our own redemption should be clear in our mind. In our earthly sojourn, there would be many instances that we have to bear all the misunderstanding and persecution we can encounter in life. But we should not be remiss of our duty, out of charity also, to conquer, not only in the last moment, but also along the way.
This conquering can be done in terms of making corrections on people who are in error. The way to do these corrections would, of course, vary depending on the circumstances of the case.
Yes, it’s true that we have to bear and be patient with everyone all the time, but it would not be right if we do not make corrections or suggestions or mere proclamations and reminders of truths when both the need and the opportunity come. In fact, we should not just wait for the opportunity to come. Somehow, we have to look for them, or even make them come.
Bearing and patience would be false if they are not accompanied by acts of conquest. We are somehow noticing this anomaly around when people just prefer to be patient, actually doing nothing, without making any effort to make some corrections or suggestions, proclamations and reminders.
The gospel warns us about the danger of what is known as human respect. This is the fear to correct someone who is in error for a variety of false reasons—because he is a friend, or a superior, or a disagreeable person.
Or it can be that we play favorites and treat different persons differently in an unfair manner. The different translations of the Bible refer to this attitude as “partiality” or “favoritism” or “respect of persons.” (cfr. Rom 2,11; Act 20,34)
Yes, we have to bear and be patient, but we also should not run away from the opportunities when we have to speak up and even complicate our life out of true love for God and for souls.
When Peter and John were commanded not to speak of Christ, they just boldly said: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge. But we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4,19-20)
They and many other holy men preferred to suffer, even to the point of martyrdom, rather than to keep quiet and fail to proclaim or correct those who need to be corrected.*